5-Year-Old South Dakota Girl Dies After Falling Into Water at Park

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 19, 2018USshare
5-Year-Old South Dakota Girl Dies After Falling Into Water at Park
File image of police tape. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A five-year-old girl fell into the river at a park in South Dakota and passed away.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon, March 18, at Big Sioux River at Falls Park, reported the Des Moines Register.

The Sioux Falls Police Department said that emergency responders rushed to the area after receiving a call at noon, and two rescue swimmers plunged into the icy water where the girl was last seen.

They eventually found her and rushed her to a local hospital.

However, attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful and she was later pronounced dead.

Justin Frantzen of Sioux Falls said that he was taking pictures at the park when he saw a woman take off her coat and jump into the water.

“She told me she needed help because her little girl fell in,” Frantzen said. “So I immediately got down here where she was at and started helping finding her.”

Frantzen said about 30 minutes elapsed from the time the girl fell into the water and rescuers found her.

Officials said it took crews around 14 minutes to pull the girl from the water after receiving the 911 call, with first responders arriving within 4 minutes of the call, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Brad Goodroad told Keloland.

Two people drowned at the park back in 2013, when they jumped in to try to save a 6-year-old boy who had fallen in.

The boy was eventually rescued but the two people died.

The Register said that various measures were considered after those deaths to try to prevent others from falling in. Ultimately, it was decided to place signs warning people not to get too close to the edge.

Anchors were also installed in the area in case responders needed to make a water rescue.

The girl who passed away over the weekend was later identified as Maggie Jo Zaiger of Audubon, Iowa, reported KSFY.

She reached to touch the foam that forms on the banks of the river but fell in, according to police spokesman Sam Clemens.

Director of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Don Kearney said officials will examine measures to make the area safer.

Options considered several years ago included fences and barricades.

“The other reality is that you don’t know to what extent that will actually keep people out. Kids like to climb, and is that a false sense of security to have a fence there?” Kearney said.


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